PJ Washington's 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Analysis of Hornets Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 21, 2019

Kentucky's PJ Washington celebrates after making a 3-point basket during the first half of the Midwest Regional final game against Auburn in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets have selected PJ Washington with the No. 12 pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

Teams were intrigued last year when they invited him to the 2018 combine. But Washington wisely chose to return to Kentucky. He wound up capitalizing on the second college season, transforming into Kentucky's leading scorer and a surefire first-round pick.


Quick hitters

Size: 6'8"

Weight: 230.4 pounds

Wingspan: 7'2¼"

Reach: 8'10½"

Pro comparison: Marcus Morris 


Offensive strengths 

Washington is a skill-over-athleticism big man who's expanded his offensive repertoire. The post is still his office. Washington has good footwork and control on his one-handed shots. He also ranked in the 95th percentile as a post passer. And after making five three-pointers in the 2017-18 campaign, Washington turned a corner, finishing his sophomore season 33-of-78 (42.3 percent). He needs work putting the ball down, but he did flash promise attacking closeouts, particularly with runners (6-of-10). 


Offensive weaknesses

Washington only finished 9-of-22 on drives to the basket out of spot-ups, a result of his lack of explosion. He's still not a high-level shot-creator, scoring just 24 points on 33 possessions. The improved three-point shooting was encouraging, but the sample size was small, and his success was slightly clouded by a 66.3 percent free-throw mark. He's capable of making a scoring play or pass from every spot on the floor, but he doesn't have a signature skill or strength to bank on for value. 


Defensive outlook

Washington was a mixed bag defensively, but his physical tools, mobility and basketball IQ still fuel optimism. He has an impressive mix of strength, length, mobility and basketball IQ. It should translate to versatility and team defense. He does get beat around the perimeter defending in space. And he wasn't a major shot-blocker at Kentucky (1.7 blocks per 40 minutes in 2018-19). 


Rookie-year projection

A mature player and well-regarded off the floor, Washington should be ready to contribute by playing to his strengths offensively and holding his own defensively. He won't produce points or rebounds in volume, but for a rookie, he should be able to remain efficient, working as a back-to-the-basket player, cutter, finisher and capable shooter when left open. He's a good bet to make second team All-Rookie.


Projected role: Starting role player

Without standout athleticism or advanced scoring ability, Washington doesn't come off as a high-ceiling prospect. His tools, versatility and intangibles do hint at a high-floor, role-playing forward. He's considered a low-risk option who can stick in a rotation for a decade as a complementary player and fit for any lineup. 


Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.